Encouraging your child to participate in a noncompetitive sport like tai kwan do and other activities can build confidence and additional social networks for your child, Criswell says. It's a way of, essentially, diversifying your portfolio. "If your whole life it's been volleyball, and you get to high school, and you don't make the team," then "you have lost a sense of identity," she says.
And finally, remember to focus on friendships. This is a child's best social insurance policy. And friendships are strengthened by "shared experiences outside of school," Criswell says. As she explains it, "Every time you get together with someone outside of school, it's like putting a bead on a necklace. When the necklace is full, you've got a solid friendship."
And to explain the difference to your child between a friend and a clique, Cohen says this: "Friends want you to be yourself and be who you are, and groups want you to be a specific way."
[See How to Be Happier At Home.]